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While most falls don’t result in serious injury, they’re still a fairly common occurrence for those aged 65 and over. The NHS states that around one in three over 65s will have at least one fall each year. However, what if these falls could be prevented by taking some basic precautions?
There are many precautions you can take at home. Read on for more information on three of the main safeguarding measures you can take to prevent falls.
It’s important that clutter is put away and spills are cleaned up immediately to reduce the chances of injuring yourself.
Even if your home isn’t necessarily cluttered, you should survey each room and look for furniture that might be blocking walkways or preventing you from manoeuvring easily, particularly in high-traffic areas. This could include end tables that jut out or cables that trail across the floor. These things could cause a fall, so make sure you have at least a six foot-wide walkway, giving you adequate room to move about.
Similarly, you should check for loose rugs that may slide as you walk on them. Rugs that are placed on surfaces such as wood, tile or laminate flooring may slide about. You can ensure this doesn’t happen by lining the underside with double-sided tape or purchasing a slip-resistant mat to go underneath the rug. Using double-sided tape may prevent the corners of the rug from curling upwards, which could be a significant trip hazard.
It’s important that you keep the stairwell as clear of clutter as you can. Avoid hanging coats on the bottom newel post as they could compromise your grip and put shoes away instead of leaving them near the stairs. Some people may even leave items on the steps to take up next time they go upstairs, however these are further hazards that could cause you to trip.
It’s not always clutter that’s the problem - water and other liquid spillages can cause you to slip if they aren’t cleaned up straight away. Therefore, ensure that liquid is properly wiped away using a dry tea towel or cloth. Bathrooms and kitchens are the spaces that are most likely to have water on the floor, particularly after doing the washing up or using the shower. For these areas, it can be a good idea to install non-slip mats. These can go in the shower or the bath, on the floor by the sink or on your bathroom floor to prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
Wearing the right clothing could prevent an accident from occurring at home. You should aim to wear anti-slips socks or slippers around the house, particularly if you have wooden or tiled floors. Many people believe that carpet is less slippery than the materials mentioned above, however if you’re wearing socks with no extra grip, it can be just as bad as tiles. Therefore, be sure to wear your anti-slip socks or shoes around the house, particularly when going up and down the stairs.
Trousers that are a little too long or baggy can become a trip hazard too. You should ensure that your clothes aren’t too loose and that they don’t flap around your ankles too much.
There are tonnes of clever technology devices that you can make use of to prevent slips, trips or falls when you’re at home. Grab bars and handles are one of the most popular, as they’re easy to install and provide extra grip when getting out of the shower or going down the stairs. Be sure to use them regularly to prevent an accident. You may also want to look into installing an additional handrail on the stairs. Most staircases have just one handrail on the bannister, however you could consider purchasing one for the opposite wall, too.
If you find that you’re often trying to get hold of items that are just slightly out of your reach, you could benefit from a low step stool or a grabbing device. A step stool will allow you to reach into your top cupboards or high shelves without overstretching and injuring yourself. A grabbing device, sometimes known as a grabber or reacher, is excellent for people who struggle to bend down. It’s like an extended arm that allows you to pick up items you may have dropped, such as rubbish, an item of clothing or your keys.
It may be a good idea to have a personal alarm, too. While these devices won’t necessarily stop an accident from happening, you may feel safer when you’re at home alone knowing that, should an incident occur, you will be able to get help, whether this be from a neighbour or the emergency services.
Most accidents can be prevented if you’re careful around the house and apply some of the precautions mentioned above. While there’s always a chance of falling no matter what your age, these chances can be reduced. If you’re worried about your current living conditions and require additional help, you could seek help from an occupational therapist, who will be able to advise you on exactly what you need.
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